Vulnerable people groups desperately need attention in catastrophe situations because of their special needs. When a catastrophe strikes children, old people, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and people with HIV/AIDS, are in the most danger to be left behind.
In certain situations also an ethnical background, religion or political affiliation might cause that people can also be categorized as vulnerable people.
For example immobilized people can face many challenges when trying to find a safe place in the middle of a catastrophe. This is why special needs have to be considered when preparing to face emergency situations and also when the rescue operation has already started. People with some form of disability are among the most vulnerable and neglected in any type of emergency.
Old people, pregnant women or for example people with AIDS on the other hand should be provided with health services – medicine and health care are their vital condition. When a person’s health condition is weak or vulnerable, one cannot find a safe place on their own.
Most vulnerable groups should be involved
People in the most vulnerable people groups are experts in their own field. That is why their opinions are vital and they should be involved in planning, implementation and monitoring of humanitarian aid actions. That way it can be assured that the aid will reach the people efficiently and they will get the aid they mostly need.
Evidence shows that people with disabilities – who make up an estimated 15% of the world’s population – are disproportionately affected by emergencies. They may, for instance, have greater difficulty in accessing food, water, shelter, latrines and health-care services in emergency situations. They also experience particularly high rates of mortality and morbidity.
Emergencies cause disabilities
Emergencies can also create a new generation of people with disabilities due to injuries, poor basic surgical and medical care, emergency-induced mental health and psychological problems and breakdown in support structures.
Estimates from some countries suggest that up to one quarter of disabilities may be associated with violence and injuries. It is estimated that for every child killed as a result of violent conflict, three are injured and permanently impaired.